The Role of Women in Agriculture
When you think of farming, do you typically think of women? For most of us, men stereotypically come to mind as traditional farmers, working the land from sunup to sundown to grow our food. But just as farming has evolved, so have the roles and opportunities that it offers both men and women!
In many ways, working in agriculture today looks far different than it did 100 years ago. On top of growing plants inside and using smarter technology and artificial intelligence, it’s more common for packing and distributing food to be an essential part of the farming process. So, for greenhouse farms that pick, pack, ship, and sell everything they grow, that means there are a wide variety of opportunities available—and both men and women are eagerly stepping up to take on these roles!
The produce industry – and more specifically, the greenhouse farming sector – has seen an encouraging shift towards more women holding senior-level positions, as well as exceling in roles and work settings that would have traditionally been male-dominated. The strides being made by women to bring the fresh produce industry to even greater heights are inspiring: whether they’re working as a Grower, a Salesperson, a Manager, or they fall somewhere in-between, the hardworking women of fresh produce deserve to be recognized.
The culture at Nature Fresh Farms has been built on a very specific set of values, one of which is inclusion. Our leadership team holds a strong belief that diversity and inclusion are key to our company’s success. They believe that no matter who you are, where you come from, the color of your skin, your education level, or whatever else makes you unique, anyone can be successful at Nature Fresh Farms if you’re willing to work hard, learn, and grow your passion for produce.
Many men and women at Nature Fresh Farms have proven themselves as strong leaders, and they have confidently leveraged their unique experiences and worldviews within the workplace. We’ve seen time and time again that when businesses create a space where their employees can tap into their diverse perspectives, it often leads to better outcomes. This is true for women: along with expertise and skill, many of our female team members are encouraged to bring their unique perspectives to the table, making us think differently about how we grow, pick, pack, ship, and sell our vegetables.
As more women achieve success in fresh produce and agriculture, they become role models for the next generation of female workers seeking fulfilling career opportunities. We have some incredible women at Nature Fresh Farms who have proven themselves as professional trailblazers within the fresh produce industry—meet some of them below!
Women of Nature Fresh Farms
From working with our plants, to making sales, to directing our fleet, we have so many incredible women on our team who are essential to keeping our business moving forward! Let’s hear what a few of our female leaders have to say about their experiences as women working in fresh produce, as well as how they view our company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Zanelle H., Retail Sales Accounts Manager
“Having spent most of my career in South Africa travelling all over the world, I was always surprised to see that the struggles people face in various countries seem to be very similar, although some are ahead of the curve and others behind. I believe the main challenge comes within each culture–finding the best ways to help women get more involved in new roles and give them a voice whilst at the same time respecting the other more traditional roles women still play as mothers, caregivers, and partners. Nowadays we see more and more women stepping up in these leadership positions, being mentors to men and women alike, and that gets me really excited about what lays ahead and the possibilities for the future.”
Sandeep S., ERP Manager
“The produce industry is just one of the many industries that was once male-dominated, but gradually over time, women have proven to be great contributors in the world of agriculture and food production. With modernization in the industry and changing perceptions, agriculture offers a lot of opportunities in different areas for women to grow and make great strides. It brings out a great sense of confidence and inspiration looking up to achievements of all successful women in the industry.
I see women growing stronger, smarter, and bolder at Nature Fresh Farms. The leadership team here believes in equal opportunity, lending an ear to each opinion and growing together as one big family.”
Luci F., Product Development Specialist
“I see a shift to being more balanced with men and women in the produce industry. Now, we have many more women in leadership positions, including non-traditional positions that men would have filled before. Those pioneer women who proved themselves in a male-dominated environment are changing the industry’s culture and creating more opportunities for other women.”
Vania V., Operations Manager
“Today’s society is more diverse, and we see more and more women in different industries (like the produce industry) being acknowledged and recognized for their work. I think support is the key for anyone to succeed, and I’m encouraged to see more and more produce companies and associations supporting and recognizing women working in produce. This support brings more opportunities for women to thrive in the industry.”
Leigh Ann B., Director of Logistics
“I absolutely see the industry changing and doors opening for women, even just in the three years I have been working in produce. In the Sales and Logistics teams alone, we went from just a handful of women to almost half of the office being women! That’s pretty amazing when you think about it!
I believe Nature Fresh Farms has empowered women simply by never looking at them as any less than their male counterparts. I’ve never once felt like I was treated differently based on my gender. Nature Fresh Farms has gone out of their way to recognize and foster this shift in the workforce by sending groups of women to attend the PMA Women’s Fresh Perspectives Conference. In 2019, I was lucky enough to attend this conference, where we were able to connect and share ideas with other women in the industry. We sent seven women from Nature Fresh Farms that year–the most of any company at the conference!”
Industry Support for Women
We can’t talk about supporting women in agriculture without shining a special spotlight on the many organizations that represent professionals within the fresh produce industry. These associations are dedicated to bringing the fresh produce community together and creating professional growth opportunities for its community members, including women.
Finding better ways to support women who are building meaningful careers in the fresh produce sector has become an important focus for many of these organizations. The Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) is one of these influential groups. Along with recognizing female leaders in the produce space through their 2021 Women in Produce Honoree program, the CPMA recently released a Produce Talks podcast episode (with our very own Luci Faas as one of the panelists!) that discussed the accomplishments of women leading the promotion of produce in Canada.
The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) is another organization that is taking big strides to empower females in the fresh produce industry as they seek greater professional development opportunities. Their annual Women’s Fresh Perspectives Conference provides female attendees working in fresh produce with opportunities to develop and leverage their unique talents and passion for produce.
These are just a few of the incredible ways industry organizations are supporting women in produce so they can continue to thrive in their careers!
Women & The Future of Fresh Produce
The mentality that “this is how it’s always been” won’t get us where we need to go. That’s why, when it comes to bringing farming into the future, we know that women have just as important of a role to play as men. And as Nature Fresh Farms continues to grow better and care more, we will look to every member of our team to contribute to our farm’s growth and development.